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#6 Miami at Northern Michigan

The RedHawks return to CCHA play after a week off as WJC gold medalists Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly rejoin team

Coming off a lull in the schedule that has seen the RedHawks play just two games since mid-December, a 1-0 victory over duhOSU and a 1-0 loss in the championship game of the Three Rivers Classic to surging Robert Morris (who always beats us anyway), Miami returns to CCHA action this weekend at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich. as the Northern Michigan Wildcats and Miami RedHawks play their final CCHA regular season series. Frankly, it’s likely the last time in a while that Miami visits them in the U.P. with conference realignment coming next year.

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Weekend Recap: RedHawks get 5 CCHA points on the weekend

Sing a song? Light the lantern? Sweepness? Well…almost anyway.

The Miami RedHawks came back to Goggin Ice Arena and despite a rough first period on Saturday night, got their season in full gear for a young team that is now atop the CCHA standings.

That feels good to say… “Atop the CCHA standings.” After opening the CCHA’s Celebrate the Legacy season with road trips to Michigan (now 6-46-3 all time) and Ferris State (always a tough place and opponent), to come out of the first 3 weekends of CCHA play on top feels real nice.

In the process, Miami has seen freshman goaltender Jay Williams take the spotlight in what we thought would be another 4 years of rotating goalies. While we still will likely see the rotation for a while, Ryan McKay stayed on the bench – a sweet sweet luxury that head coach Enrico Blasi will certainly enjoy. If Williams does continue to get the nod and later falters, a healthy, rested and eager McKay will be eager to get back out there. Knowing Blasi, however, McKay has healed up and will be back on the ice against Michigan State next weekend. In any event, Williams improves to 5-2-1 on the year, has a .911 save percentage and is allowing just 2.5 goals per game.

Last night, Jay stood tall in net (at 6’2″ I suppose he is always standing tall) despite a lot of untimely turnovers and 2 awful embellishment calls from the Referee combination of Steven McInchak and Rodney Tocco (did somebody say Taco?). They certainly cost Miami 2 power play chances that Miami could have turned into paydirt.. In addition, the 2 embellishment calls were widely contested by the raucus Miami crowd last night, and at the end of the night, may have earned coach Blasi a penalty on consecutive nights.

On Friday night, Miami was assessed a Bench Minor at 15:20 of the third period, and Blasi was less than pleased with McInchak and Taco Tocco. It may have been because NMU’s Kyle Follmer was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the whistle. That was Follmer’s 4th 2-minute minor of the night, and he continued some of his antics on Saturday night with another 2-minute minor in the 2nd period. Then, during Saturday’s handshake line, Blasi was seen having a civil conversation berating one of the linesmen and a 10 minute misconduct was added to Miami’s totals when everything was said and done. To say that Da Coach was upset would be an gross understatement.

An unnamed source has given us an inside scoop as to what happened this weekend from an officiating standpoint. Apparently Coach Blasi despises is less than friendly with McInchak, and because of it has even gone to CCHA head of officials Steve Piotrowski about the situation. Whether it be a history of awful calls or just a general distaste for the guy, McInchak hasn’t been to Oxford in over 4 years. Friday night’s call that cost Miami 2 minutes in the box was just the start, and it escalated on Saturday. Rico could be heard across the arena on one occasion (after the second of 2 embellishment calls), and to put the feud to rest, McInchak finished the weekend with a 10-minute misconduct for the bench (which was shaking hands at the time), primarily aimed at Rico.

In good news from the weekend, Alex Wideman made sure that we knew he was back on the ice last night as well. The shortest player on the team at 5’7″ can get lost out there sometimes due to his size. Last night, it came at the right time for him to reappear after missing a few weeks with an mono. With just 2:13 left in the night, Wideman knocked home the game-tying goal just over NMU goalie Jared Coreau’s pad as he tried to hug the post (It was eerily similar to the game tying goal that snuck past Cody Reichard against BU in Washington, DC in 2009).

“I didn’t really aim it; I just kinda threw it at the net just to see what happened,” said Wideman. “Good things happen when you throw pucks at the net. Luckily, it got in short side. In that kind of situation, you’re not going to get a pretty goal, not gonna get a back-door goal or anything like that. It’s gonna be hard. The ice is terrible. It’s gonna be a gritty goal or even a lucky goal like that.” (source: USCHO.com)

Then, Wideman streaked down the ice and put the game winner past Coreau in the shootout to delight the hometown crowd. You can view the 2 shootout goals at the bottom of this page!

To top it off, after the weekend, just 3 RedHawks have yet to score on the season: Michael Mooney, Paulides and Taylor Richart. To say that Richart has been unproductive, however, would be a gross understatement. He may just be the best defender on the ice, and I’ve yet to see him look nervous or rattled.

After holding the Wildcats to 4, 9 and 7 shots in the 3 periods on Friday, the defense was also stout Saturday night after allowing 2 goals in the first period. After being outshot 15-5 in that first period, they held NMU to 12 more shots: 8 in the second, just 2 in the 3rd and 2 more in OT. Williams knew that Miami was going to pull out the victory on Saturday: “Before the third period in the locker room, there was no doubt in our minds we were going to win that game,” Williams said. “We just had to keep going, keep fighting.” (source: muredhawks.com)

Usually Miami is a team that scores early and holds on for the victory. This year, however, Miami has evened things out and have 9 first period goals, 9 more second period goals and 11 third period tallies. On the other side of the puck, Miami has allowed 10 first period and 8 third period goals, and just 2 in the middle frame.

After taking 11 points against the first 3 teams from Michigan these last three weeks, Miami welcomes yet another team from that state up north in the Michigan State Spartans. MSU smashed Michigan on Saturday night by a score of 7-2 after betting slammed 5-1 on Friday night. To this point in the season, all 11 teams are still just one weekend sweep of 1st place, as Miami stands at 11 points and Northern Michigan is in 11th with just 5 points. There’s a long way to go in the season, but the Hawks are positioning themselves well to start things off.

Miscellaneous weekend notes:

After this weekend, Miami is now 2-2-1 on Fridays this year, having lost their last 2 Friday night games on the road, and compared to 4-0-1 (1 SO Win) on Saturdays.

On the injury front, Miami seems to be back at full strength. Ben Paulides, who had been out for a couple weeks returned to action for both games this weekend. As did Wideman (mono) and Joe Hartman (ankle).

After tallying a goal and 2 assists Friday, and adding an assist on Saturday, we think we’ll see another CCHA Rookie of the Week award for Riley Barber. Barber is now the CCHA’s leading scorer with 5 goals and 9 assists. Czarnik (6G, 7A) is just behind him, tied with Michigan’s A.J. Treais with 13 points.

In case you missed it

First of all, congratulations go out to @RedHawkCooch on Twitter. “Cooch” won our first ever trivia contest and is the winner of this puck, signed by Coach Blasi. Keep an eye out for future trivia contests, and thanks to those of you who participated and follow us on Twitter!

If you didn’t get a chance to see the shootout winning goals from Saturday night, here you go. (Sidenote: cellphone technology is amazing. These were taken with a phone.)

16th-ranked Wildcats visit Oxford for 2 game set

Northern Michigan logo

Miami welcomes the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend

Coming off of a 4 game roadtrip against two other ranked Michigan teams, the RedHawks return to Oxford for a two-game set with the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend. Miami got out of Michigan with hard earned splits the last 2 weekends, and come in to the weekend second in the logjammed CCHA standings. 5 teams are 2-2-0 in the CCHA standings, and Northern Michigan is in a tie for 9th (1-2-1, 5 points and 1 shootout loss) in the early going of the CCHA schedule.

Northern Michigan will be led by Senior forward Matt Thurber, who leads the league in scoring with a goal and 10 assists.  Miami’s sophomore forward Austin Czarnik and freshman forward Riley Barber are both at 10 points on the season, just 1 point behind the CCHA leader. This week’s CCHA Now production features the National Rookie of the Month (in case you’ve been living under a rock, that’s Barber), who is also the nation’s leader in points by a rookie.

Walt Kyle leads the Wildcats from behind the bench, and is in his 11th year in Marquette, where he stands 198-170-46. NMU comes to Oxford having blown a 4-1 3rd period lead on Friday night against Michigan (where they lost the shootout), but did pick up a 4-3 win on Saturday night – both games being played in Marquette. The Wildcats have had a truly impressive start to the season, having won twice against Wisconsin (in a non-conference neutral-site series in Green Bay), and splitting a series at Nebraska-Omaha. They were, however, swept at home by Notre Dame before last week’s tilts with the Wolverines.

Miami is just 20-34-3 all-time against Northern Michigan, including going 1-3-0 last year. Kyle has a chance to reach 200 wins at the helm of NMU this weekend, but the RedHawks will certainly have something to say about that. Coach Blasi may return to the goalie rotation this weekend after starting Jay Williams for both games in Big Rapids. Ryan McKay has yet to see action since being injured with a leg or groin injury in the Friday night game at Michigan, and Williams has played all 235 minutes since McKay went down. McKay was still dressed on the bench last weekend as the backup, however, but did not see any game action.

Look for another weekend of play similar to what Ferris State showed us last weekend. NMU likes to pack in a bunch of players in the defensive zone to block as many shots as possible. Their defensive style constantly frustrates the ‘Hawks, as evidenced by Miami’s 1-3 record against them last year. Miami’s talented group of freshmen will have to be smart and stay out of the penalty box – something they have done quite a bit this season. 17 of Miami’s 51 penalties (33%) have come from the freshmen group that has seen ice time. Miami has also been called for 2 misconducts and one more 5 minute major on the season. While Blasi’s Miami teams have always been physical and have always taken a lot of penalties, some that we have seen this season have been a tad on the cheap side, and have often come at just the wrong time.

This weekend, keep an eye on our twitter feed, as we’ll have a Miami-themed trivia contest during Saturday night’s game. The first response to our question, only asked on our twitter feed, will receive a Miami game puck, signed by Coach Blasi.

I’ll take another split this weekend and we’ll stay in touch with the other teams in the league, and will hope that we’re pleasantly surprised if we sweep the Wildcats out of Oxford. Both games will be available for viewing on the Miami All-Access feed (good luck logging in), and on AM 1490 in the Oxford/Hamilton/Cincinnati area.

Other weekend notes:

Alex Wideman returned to practice this week. After a couple weeks off due to being sick with mono, we could see Alex return to the ice this weekend.

On this date 34 years ago:
November 10, 1978: Miami hockey notches its first-ever victory against an NCAA opponent. Miami beat the University of Illinois-Chicago 7-4 at the old Goggin Ice Arena.

In Miami’s “In the Crease” feature, the 11 freshmen will be featured. Meet Matthew Caito this week on the Miami Athletics home page.

RedHawks Return to Form, Reichard blanks Wildcats

The young men on the Miami RedHawks squad know when to flex their muscle. Despite playing their hearts out on Friday night, the Hawks couldn’t recover from 2 early Northern Michigan goals. Tonight was a different story, however, as Miami showed the Wildcats why they are one point out of first place in the CCHA and why the Wildcats still find themselves in ninth place.  Miami showed its size, speed, agressiveness, and all-around skill to put 6 goals past Northern Michigan goaltenders when they had only scored 3 goals in 3 previous meetings this season.

On the offensive side of the ice, Miami was doing their best to get to the 41 shot total they had last night. They came awfully close, hitting the 40 mark, which made a total of 81 shots in the 2 game series. Pretty impressive, and truly off the charts when you consider on the other end of the ice, Miami allowed 7, 7 and 2 shots in the three periods tonight. That’s 16 on the night and only 29 on the weekend.

While the offense was doing its thing all over the ice, the defense did all it could to stop everything coming across the Miami blue line.  There was rarely a shot that wasn’t contested, and many rushes were stopped before they could even get started. What did sneak through the staunch defense was easily put aside by Cody Reichard.

Reichard started the evening not having won a game since November 26th against Denver, and only playing a handful of times since then. His confidence may have hit an all time low with his recent results.  He had been 0-3-0 in his last 3 games, had allowed 12 goals and was pulled after allowing a goal in the first 9:39 of the first period in the Friday matchup in Marquette against these same Wildcats.

Tonight was the Cody Reichard we have grown accustomed to, as he pushed everything sent his way to the corners, and swallowed the rest. While there weren’t many big scoring chances on the night, Cody comes out of the evening without a puck hitting twine, earning his 2nd shutout of the season, and 12th of his career.  This 12th shutout ties him on the all-time career shutout list at Miami. David Burleigh previously set the mark with his 12 shutouts in 134 games. As we all know, Reichard has spent his 4 years at Miami splitting time with Connor Knapp, another phenomenal goaltender, and has equaled Burleigh in just 88 games.  (Knapp has 10 shutouts in 73 games between the pipes as well.)

Reilly Smith didn’t want his teammate to get away with the only spotlight on the night, however. As if we didn’t know this before, Reilly Smith is good at hockey. The newly named co-captain leads the team in goals and points, has 7 game-winners, plays on the power play, the penalty kill, and does just about everything on the ice you could ask from your co-captain. A night after seeing his 5 game point streak come to an end, Smith’s assist on Alex Wideman’s first goal was the 100th point of his Miami career, becoming the 47th RedHawk to reach the century mark. Smith later would add to his CCHA leading goals total, scoring his 19th of the season.

After a night where the ‘Hawks seemed to do everything right, but couldn’t get a puck past Jared Coreau, tonight was the complete opposite. As a fair assessment, all 6 goals were of the “dirty” variety, and Coreau was pulled after allowing 4 goals.  He lasted 43:43 of game time, and was pulled in favor of Reid Ellingson. On a night where Miami was clicking on all cylinders, I can’t say I blame Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle. Coreau was not the same as what the ‘Hawks saw on Friday night or in previous meetings between the two teams.

As the dust settled on the evening, Miami had another 3 points in hand in the CCHA standings. Taking a look at those standings might make you shake your head a couple times.

Other Notes:
– Not to be out done by Reichard and Smith, Alex Wideman was the Perani Cup #1 star of the game on the strength of his 2 goals, the first of which was tonight’s game winner.  The goals were his first since the season opener vs. Bemidji State. Alex also led the team with 7 total shots on the night, including 4 shots in first.

– On the night, both Widemans (Alex 2G, Chris 2A), Blake Coleman (2A), Matt Tomassoni (2A), Bryon Paulazzo (1G, 1A) and Reilly Smith (1G, 1A) all had 2 points and 12 RedHawks had at least a point.

– With tonight being parents night, almost all of the players’ parents were in attendance for the pregame festivities.  In addition, tonight was Mr. Wideman’s birthday.  The proud father will certainly appreciate 4 points from his 2 sons on the evening (sure makes for a better present than a new tie or tube socks).

– The Hawks were 5-5 on the penalty kill and 2-4 on the power play tonight.  The power play has been ranked in the bottom 15 of the country for much of the season, and seems to be coming around at the right time.

Next Up:
Miami heads to Ann Arbor to play the Michigan Wolverines (off this week).  Friday night’s game will be on Fox Sports Detroit and Saturday will be in HD on CBS Sports Network. The puck drops for each game at 7:35pm.  As always, the Redskin Warriors will have coverage next week!

SixPack:
Don’t miss out on the Sunday #SixPack. Follow our twitter feed: @redskinwarriors for some bone chilling stats from Saturday night!!

Coreau, Wildcats frustrate Miami again

Sometimes there’s a team that simply has your number. Northern Michigan seems to be it for the Miami RedHawks.

The Wildcats received first period goals from Justin Florek and Tyler Gron and that was all sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau would need as he made 40 saves and Northern Michigan defeated Miami for the third time this season in as many tries 2-1.

The RedHawks (14-11-2, 10-9-2-1 CCHA) dominated this game in every facet with the exception of the scoreboard outshooting NMU (12-8-5, 7-7-5-2 CCHA) by an incredible 41-13 margin. Including the December 2 game at Marquette, Mich., Coreau has a 2-0 record, 1.00 goals against average and an unbelievable .970 save percentage this season against Miami.

After falling behind as a result of two defensive mistakes that led to offensive zone rushes, and goals, for the Wildcats, Miami settled down and dominated play outshooting NMU 30-9 over the game’s final two periods.

Freshman Blake Coleman pulled Miami to within one with an early third period goal, but despite having a late powerplay opportunity, then an extra skater on for the game’s final 1:18, the RedHawks were simply unable to find the equalizer.

Miami head coach Enrico Blasi felt his team lost a bit of its composure and became frustrated by the Wildcats’ netminder.

“When you get down to this time of year, one thing you can’t get is frustrated. You have to play with composure and discipline. You have to make plays under duress. Hopefully one thing we learned from tonight was exactly that, you have to keep playing no matter what.”

Frankly, it’s hard to blame the RedHawks for feeling the pressure as they battle to remain in the top 5 of the CCHA regular season standings and the top 16 in the Pairwise. And, with the tilted play in two of the three games against the Wildcats this season, it seems understandable that frustration could be mounting.

Senior tri-captain Alden Hirschfeld had this to say about the effort.

“It was a tough game, a tough one to lose. I thought we had a lot of chances out there. Their goalie made some good saves. We had a couple of turnovers that cost us. I thought we fought back really hard and we just have to let this one go and get ready for tomorrow.”

With last night’s loss, this much is clear.

Miami must find a way to win Saturday night because things do not get easier with next weekend’s series at Michigan, a home series against Notre Dame and the regular season finale, a home and home with Ohio State all still to come. Clearly there is still time for Miami to solidify their standing in the Pairwise and the league, but they will have to do so against the conference’s elite teams. So, it’s imperative they get started tonight, against a Northern Michigan team that Miami is clearly much more talented than.

Amazingly, Miami did not commit a single penalty all night after committing 14 in the previous matchup with the Wildcats.

Notes

– Miami is just 1-6 against the Upper Peninsula teams this year (1-3 vs. Lake Superior; 0-3 vs. NMU)

– Miami is an unimpressive 19-34-3 all-time against NMU

– Head coach Enrico Blasi is just 16-19-1 behind Miami’s bench against the Wildcats. NMU is one of the few CCHA teams that he does not have a winning record against.

– Miami is now tied for 10th in the Pairwise. With several games going the RedHawks way, they actually gained ground despite the loss. But, they are in a precarious league position having played two more league games than several contenders who are chasing Miami. They are essentially as close to first as they are to ninth.

MURedHawks.com reports that senior goaltender Connor Knapp had his six-game winning streak snapped as he allowed more than one goal for the first time since a 5-3 win on December 9 at Ohio State. His last loss was December 2 at NMU. And, Miami had no penalties in last night’s loss for the first time since the 1996-97 season when they did it twice (vs. Michigan State and Cornell) in the same year.

Miami drops opener at NMU, 2-1

Northern Michigan’s Brian Nugent scored at 17:50 of the third period to break a 1-1 tie and someone named Jared Coreau made 25 saves as #18 Miami dropped a 2-1 decision on Friday night at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich.

Miami outshot the Wildcats 26-17 on the evening but could muster just one goal, from junior defenseman Steven Spinell of all people. This against a team that dressed just 17 skaters, played its back-up goaltender, had three starting defensemen sit out due to suspension and had exactly one win in their previous eight games.

That pretty much says it all.

This team has me completely confused and sits tied with Michigan State for 6th place in the CCHA — though the Spartans have two league games in-hand. A loss in the series finale Saturday night would allow Northern Michigan to pass the RedHawks in the CCHA standings as their roller coaster season continues. Worse, the consistent manner in which this team continues to allow late third period goals is astounding. Here’s a quick run down of the late third period tallies that have doomed the season thus far.

Oct. 7 vs. Bemidji – score tied 3-3, BSU scores at 18:05, wins 5-3

Oct. 28 vs. Lake State – Miami trails 4-3, Lakers score at 18:03, win 5-3

Nov. 12 vs. Michigan – Miami leads 3-2, U-M scores at 16:06, game ends in 3-3 tie

Nov. 19 vs. BG – Miami leads 4-3, BG scores at 18:48, game ends in 4-4 tie

Dec. 2 vs. NMU – score tied 1-1, NMU scores at 17:50, wins 2-1

Needless to say, Saturday’s game is a must-win lest the RedHawks allow the momentum of the 6-0-2 streak and Denver Cup championship to waft silently away.

Notes

– Cody Reichard started the game allowing one goal on three shots before giving way to anointed starter Connor Knapp who entered at the 9:39 mark of the first period. Knapp was denied the chance to start by head coach Enrico Blasi because he was late to the team’s breakfast. Presumably Reichard starts Saturday night.

– Spinell’s goal was just the third of his Miami career (85 games).

Weekend Preview: Miami v. Northern Michigan

Coming off last weekend’s sweep of Providence and Denver at the Denver Cup Classic, # 18 Miami (8-6-2, 4-4-2-1 CCHA) is again on the road as they travel to Marquette, Mich. to take on the Northern Michigan University Wildcats (5-6-3, 2-5-3-2 CCHA) in a two-game CCHA series.

Last weekend Miami concluded an unbeaten November (6-0-2) by claiming the second Denver Cup in school history defeating Providence and # 10 Denver by 6-2 and 4-2 scores, respectively. The RedHawks were led by junior forward Reilly Smith as he was named the most outstanding player in the tournament, freshman forward Austin Czarnik and senior goaltender Cody Reichard who played outstanding in Miami’s win over Denver on Saturday night. All three RedHawks were named to the all tournament team and all three were named CCHA players of the month for November capping quite a turnaround from October’s dismal 2-6 start.

While Miami enters on a roll, Northern Michigan comes into play having won their last game 2-1 over visiting Michigan State on November 19. However, that win snapped an eight-game winless streak and cost the Wildcats the services of three defensemen who all received DQ’s as a result of the “pleasantries” that occurred at the end of Saturday night’s contest. According to Matt Wellens of the Marquette Mining Journal, sophomore Wade Epp, junior Kyle Follmer and junior captain Scott Macaulay will all sit out Friday night’s game along with senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan who will miss the weekend due to injury. The Wildcats will dress just 17 skaters Friday and move several forwards back to defense to accommodate for their missing teammates.

Considering this, Miami needs to jump on NMU quickly on Friday and hope to carry momentum into Saturday night’s finale. The RedHawks really have no excuse to do any less than split in Marquette even though the RedHawks’ all-time record there is just 7-16-1. Miami has won the previous four in the series but still trails all-time 19-31-3 as the Wildcats beat up on Miami in the 80s as the program was in the early days of existence.

Though defensively hobbled on Friday, Miami must still find a way to beat senior netminder Reid Ellingson who has been outstanding this year with a 2.31 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. The Wildcats are led offensively by seniors Justin Florek (7-4-11) and Tyler Gron (6-3-9). The leading assist man on the team is junior defenseman Kyle Follmer with 1-8-9.

While I think we should sweep, I get the feeling we’ll split.

Notes

– Here is a link to the Miami game notes.

– Coverage from John Boyle of the Dayton Daily News.

– Coverage from Upper Michigan Source.